Garrett's Kyle Lanning saw the play developing from the beginning. The senior cornerback watched Leo quarterback Sam Waters' eyes as he dropped into coverage. Then the pass came, and Lanning broke on the ball, stepped in front of the Leo receiver and took off.
A few cutbacks to avoid tacklers and Lanning was in the end zone, giving Garrett its final score in a 20-6 rain soaked victory over Leo.
“Don't slip and fall and where's the end zone, I was thinking that. I couldn't find it,” Lanning said of his 69-yard run for the touchdown.
Lanning's interception was one of five turnovers Garrett took advantage of in the game. Leo struggled with the wet conditions as it fumbled the ball twice on the snap and threw three interceptions.
“They seemed to struggle with the slippery ball a little bit more than we did, but it did effect our shotgun snaps in the fourth quarter” said Garrett head coach Chris DePew. “But five turnovers makes a huge difference with one for a touchdown that put us ahead by two scores.”
Leo didn't just lose the ball plenty of times in the game, but had its 26-game ACAC winning streak ended as well. It was the first time since 2008 the Lions have lost a conference game.
“Well, you know, it is what it is,” said Leo head coach Jared Sauder. “We were never really concerned with the streak, just week-by-week is how we've done it. So, that's what we're going to have to do this week, just get back on it.”
Still, Leo did have a chance late in the fourth quarter when Garrett was the one to fumble a snap inside its own red zone. Leo recovered the fumble on Garrett's 6-yard line with 6:26 left in the game. The Lions then had an illegal procedure penalty push them back five yards before throwing two incomplete passes. On third down from the 11, Waters found tight end Nolan Wilson, who was tackled on the 1-yard line.
Once again, though, the sloppy conditions caused the Lions to fumble the snap on fourth down and give Garrett the ball back with a turnover on downs.
“Our defense came up really big in the end there,” DePew said. “Tonight they came up huge against obviously a great football team. We did a number of right things … but more than anything they played with great heart and pride.”
That pride and heart was evident in Lanning. He said the team went into the game with an expectation of winning and a little bit “swagger.”
“We weren't coming in as underdogs,” he said. “We weren't going to accept that role as underdogs. We want this conference, we know we're the best in this conference.”